Alex and Natalie’s engagement was one of those rare instances when planning, passion and a little bit of luck come together to create something truly magical.
Alex reached out to me the Monday before the Chicago couple landed in Oregon for their annual Bend Brew Fest trip with grand ideas of surprising his girlfriend with a proposal at Crater Lake. I was originally unavailable on the Friday he was looking at and actually referred him to a few of my local pro photographer friends in Bend, but they were also unavailable that day. As luck would have it, Alex’s plans changed; we confirmed the surprise proposal Thursday evening for the following Saturday. I quickly went to work on the logistics for Crater Lake, and both the local web cams and wind forecasts confirmed my fear that a nearby forest fire made this location a No-Go. I suggested Proxy Falls as an alternative location, and Alex gave me the thumbs up. The challenge was that Proxy Falls has ZERO cell phone reception, there are not one but two gorgeous waterfalls off the same trail, and Alex had never been to the area. I armed Alex with several maps, GPS coordinates and sketches of the falls, and told him, “You got this!” That was the easy part; the hard part was persuading his girlfriend, along with 6 of their closest friends and relatives, to wake up at 5am and make the 2.5 hour drive from Sunriver to Proxy Falls. Fortunately, everyone made it to the trail head–with perfect timing. His friends showed up 10 minutes before him, and I filled them in on the details of our sneaky plans before running off with 30lbs of camera gear to the falls as fast as humanly possible!
I was the first person on the scene, and was so STOKED that there wasn’t another soul in sight. Proxy Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the world, and I was sure there would be someone there waiting for the first light well before dawn. I got into position, set up my tripod, and pretended like I was some unassuming landscape photographer that just happened to be there right before the couple showed up. Alex showed up 10 minutes later with Natalie, got down on one knee, and proposed to Natalie in front of arguably one of the most jaw-dropping waterfalls in the world–and she had absolutely no idea right until the moment he popped the question!